Author: Pam Buda

Wine Country and Technology Team up to Drive Sonoma County Economic Growth in 2013

[caption width="480" align="alignleft"] The Sonoma County Harvest Fair Wine Competition, courtesy of Williamson Wines in Healdsburg[/caption] This morning I received the newly released Sonoma County Economic Development Board study of the Sonoma County economy, prepared by Moody's Analytics, a national economic research firm. Technology, led by the many medical device manufacturers in Sonoma County, wine and tourism (the wine country part) are strengthening and are expected to lead Sonoma County to grow faster than the state and national averages in the second part of 2013. These are all encouraging signs for a real estate market that continues to strengthen, and where values are at long last rising. Now all we need are more homes listed for sale! Now is not too soon to begin planning to sell or buy in 2013. Please email or call me with your questions, after New Year's Day. We are taking a short break now and look forward to working with you in 2013. Happy New Year! And take a peak at the report below, it has some interesting graphs and analytics. It likes back to my document collection at Scribd.com, where I have also posted the latest home sales statistics for the Sonoma County market through November 2012. Sonoma County Economic Development Report    ...

Signs of a Shift in the Tides of Sonoma County Real Estate Continue

Five Years Later A Shift of the Tides in Sonoma County Real Estate In case you are wondering why I have a video of the San Francisco Bay Model embedded here--it is a throwback nod to my first blog post in 2007, when I used the Bay Model as an analogy to explain Sonoma County's relationship to the Bay Area Real Estate Market. Well, just as our market seems to have a fresh start--so does the Bay Model--which completed a two year refurbishment earlier this year--you can take a look above! As I said in that earlier post, the Bay Area real estate tide eventually floats Sonoma County's real estate market boat. We used to say that our market was about 18 months behind the Bay Area market but I believe that is changing for certain marquis properties--country estates in Healdsburg and Sonoma for example, or very stylish homes in walking distance to the Plazas of either of those towns. That is where the Facebook effect is being felt here, as multimillion dollar homes or vineyard and equestrian properties are being snatched up by cash buyers. What does this mean for you as a home buyer today? You must have your ducks in a row to be competitive in this market. There are multiple offers at most price points and thirty percent of buyers (also at most price ranges up to millions of dollars) are cash buyers. That means full pre-approval if you are applying for a mortgage. Proof of funds if you are paying cash. If you need a referral to a good lender, I know some great lenders that I trust who can work with you to understand your options. Let me know if I can refer you. You cannot write a serious offer to buy a property without pre-approval from a lender and proof of the funds needed to close. What does this mean for you as a possible seller? The market for your home may be stronger than you think. While prices are not what they once were, you will find a much more active market to sell in to, and you will find great values for the next home you wish to purchase. We are seeing significant overbids for strategically price properties and prices may be coming up a few percent. Activity is strong at all price points. Million dollar plus properties...

Homes in Sonoma County Are Selling Twice as Fast This Year–We Need More Listings!

Sonoma County Home Sales Report through August 2012 The latest Sonoma County home sales figures through August 2012 show more of the same--increased rate of sales, a higher median price due to the addition of more expensive sales and more non-distressed (equity sales) in to the mix as well as significantly fewer listings than a year ago.  The result?  Homes that sold in over a hundred days a year ago are now selling in 54 days!  Given that more homes also went in to contract in August than any month in the preceding THREE YEARS (!), it seems likely that the decline in inventory and increase in sales are trends that will continue for at least the next several months.  The upcoming presidential election does not seem to be factoring in to most of my clients' thinking here in Northern California. Here is the full set of reports.  Please email or call if  you have any questions about this data or real estate in Sonoma County.  The link will take you to a PDF of the full document at my Scribd page.  There you can see all the of the reports I have done in recent years.   ...

The Road Less Traveled: Could Your Sonoma Wine Country Home Be in One of these Less Known Spots?

[caption id="attachment_1925" align="alignleft" width="300"] Nearly every home in Sonoma County contains at least ONE apple tree, if not many more.[/caption] I had dinner recently with clients who bought a country property in northeast Santa Rosa's Mark West area about five years ago. I love visiting their home as it feels like a mini-vacation! The pool is on a hillside overlooking dramatic wooded ridges. You cannot see another home from the extensive decks around the house, even though the lot is only 2.5 acres. For Jeff and Brian who spend nearly every weekend at the property, it is a welcome and necessary respite from challenging careers in San Francisco. Monday through Thursday they live in Noe Valley, but Fridays after work they head up to Northeast Santa Rosa with their springer spaniel, Margo for a relaxing wine country weekend. Vacations and holidays are mostly spent here and family and friends ensure a social life that extends from the Bay Area to the wine country. At dinner on the deck we were talking about their house hunt back in 2007. Brian was remarking how much they love their location between Santa Rosa and Calistoga--how beautiful it is--how convenient to SF, to Napa and St. Helena and how affordable it was compared to Napa County. "We had no idea that Santa Rosa had so much beautiful country! We didn't realize how many wine country alternatives to Napa and Sonoma that there were. We had no clue about Sebastopol, Forestville or Santa Rosa!" All they knew about Sonoma County was the Russian River resort area, or Healdsburg or Sonoma. They had no idea that they could find the wine country experience they were seeking in any of several Sonoma County towns. In fact, Jeff and Brian are like many of the out of town buyers I work with. They are not married to a particular location when they buy a country home or estate. Rather they are looking for a certain experience. So, with all due respect to the more well-known towns of Napa, St. Helena, Sonoma and Healdsburg, here are some surprising alternatives where you may find a perfect wine country home or estate. A good country property agent (myself included) will have a good feel for country property inventory throughout the county, and more importantly, they will know the ins and outs of wells and septic systems and zoning regulations, which are especially critical when...

Silicon Valley Says Unplug from Technology–One Way? Stop and Smell the Roses in Sonoma County

[caption id="attachment_1859" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Go Ahead Stop and Smell Them!"][/caption]   Today in the New York Times, one of the most widely shared articles talks about the search for work life balance in Silicon Valley, and the virtues of unplugging from your iPhone, iPad and laptop from time to time, to enrich your life and achieve some balance. The incessant call of technology can distance us from what is real and important, whether you work in Silicon Valley or just have technology so embedded in your life it can be difficult to break away. That thinking is a FAR FAR cry from the world of Silicon Valley startups I used to inhabit, when I still found it important to duck out for a quick sail or to go horsebackriding. At those unstructured moments, I would often come up with my best ideas. Meanwhile one CEO of mine would boast about how he gamed his email to make it appear that he was on the job at 2 or 3 am. (This was a long time ago so forgive the quaint technology reference!) My first thought upon reading today's story was that so many people I know, including me of course, found one solution to this challenge. I just moved someplace so beautiful and interesting that I am forced to have balance every day. I moved to the countryside of Sonoma County! It's true--heads up Silicon Valley! Come on up. You can still work from here. ! Many of my clients telecommute. Or we can find you a fabulous retreat for getaway weekends and holidays now, something that might be your full time home one day. So many people I work with on the buying side are doing just that. Coming up most weekends (it is not a long drive to the Bay Area) from SF, or Mountain View, or Oakland. Their plan is to live here full time in one or two or three years. Some of my clients bought homes here and live out of state. The home of one is a very successful vacation rental that they can only visit a few times a year but it will be a toehold for when they come here full time in a few years. I have other clients looking to do the same thing. One set has a home in France and a home in Healdsburg. Most of them tell me their second home helps them...

All Signs Point to Rising Home Values in Sonoma County and the Bay Area

The number of homes for sale in Sonoma County is the fewest in many decades, according to a panel of real estate appraisers who recently presented their thoughts at the North Bay Association of Realtors' weekly breakfast meeting in Santa Rosa. At the end of May of the 1900 homes technically available on our MLS, over 1,000 were already in contract, leaving only 900 homes available. This was roughly a forty percent drop from last May. Inventory is declining due to a steady increase in new and pending sales, documented here. Interest rates are ridiculously low and buyers at all price ranges conitnue to leap off the sidelines. Appraisals are often a challenge now as the market is moving too fast and overbids in pending sales are not yet reflected as SOLD data, creating large challenges for the 70% of buyers who are applying for home mortgages today. All signs point to gradually increasing home vales. Decreasing supply and increasing demand. Part of this may be attributed to the "Facebook" effect, much touted for months even before Facebook's beleaguered IPO earlier this spring. The IPO and generally strong tech economy are lifting the Silicon Valley and San Francisco housing markets to red hot levels. I was in San Francisco this morning for a seminar on real estate legal topics and heard some interesting stories that are coming out of this frenzied market. Many properties, even in the six to twelve MILLION dollar range are receiving multiple cash offers. What happens when some buyers lose out--they get creative. It is increasingly common for losing Buyers to offer cash incentives to the buyers in first position (the winning buyer) so that they will assign their rights to buy the home to the frustrated loser. How can this happen? Most standard real estate contracts are assignable, unless specifically amended. In one case winning buyer accepted $100,000 from a losing buyer to assign their right to purchase a home to the second buyer. Can you imagine how the seller feels seeing that $100,000 go to some one else? Needless to say this creates some interesting challenges for sellers and their agents to be aware of--that is why the good brokerages such as Wine Country Group, my firm, offer continuing legal education to their agents. ...

Not Quite Summertime but the Living is Easy…

[caption id="attachment_1793" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="It's easy to take it easy with Mom keeping watch"][/caption] It's not quite summertime but it's going to be very hot this weekend. You might want to take it easy like these two-week old foals at my neighbor's place. [caption id="attachment_1799" align="alignleft" width="430" caption="Courtesy of Crissi Dillon of the Press Democrat newspaper"][/caption] Or there is plenty to keep you occupied if you want to get up and go! Tomorrow morning at 6:30 am the Hot Air Balloon Classic begins at the Sonoma County Airport. There are tethered balloon rides and you can get up close to watch them launch and land for a six dollar admission fee. ...

Glen Ellen's Got a New Star

[caption id="attachment_1776" align="alignleft" width="225" caption="The New Kid in Town: Glen Ellen Star Restaurant"][/caption] Yesterday morning I went over to Glen Ellen to check out some new country properties on the Sonoma Broker Tour. As agents we hold our new listings open so that the agent community can preview the new inventory without having to make an appointment. We just show up. Ideally refreshments are provided Sometimes there is a drawing for a bottle of wine or a gift certificate. Yesterday I was able to look at two beautiful new country property listings in Glen Ellen and also to check out the hottest new restaurant in town. Glen Ellen must have one of the highest ratios of restaurants to business establishments of just about anywhere, and now there's a new spot to check out. We ran in to look at the menu--it is only open for dinner. Looks promising. And here is a link to Heather Irwin's first look review in Bite Club, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat foodie blog. Oh, and those new listings were pretty interesting too. The first is on 26 acres on Enterprise Road.  It has a rambling country house with nice views of the surrounding countryside and the horse pasture below the property.  This really is a "Wine Country and Horses" property as it also has a several acre zinfandel vineyard.  You can ride in to Jack London State Park and come home and sip wine from your own property afterwards.  Not a bad combination.  The house was very comfortable with beautiful old wide plank floors and woodwork with a lot of character.  The master suite had some of the best views on the property.  If you want my opinion on the asking price of $4.2 Million, please call me to discuss. [idx-listing mlsnumber="21213674" showfeatures="true" showlocation="true"] The other property is on Chauvet Road and you could easily walk to the Glen Ellen Market or any of the MANY good restaurants in town. You could also get up in to Jack London pretty easily from here as Chauvet runs in to London Ranch Road.  I should do a post on Jack London State Park as it is easily one of the most beautiful and interesting places in Sonoma County, whether you bring your horses or hike or drive in. This particular new listing on Chauvet will probably sell very quickly because it is the type of country property that will strongly appeal to someone...

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